Angelique Kerber vs Monica Puig, Rio Olympics Gold Medal Match Preview

2016 Rio Olympic Games, Gold Medal Match Preview 🇧🇷
(2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇵🇷 Monica Puig

Then there were two! Angelique Kerber and Monica Puig will fight for gold on Saturday in what promises to be an epic battle between two gutsy competitors.

Angelique Kerber’s season 2016 keeps getting better and better. The German has already defied all expectations by a huge distance, Angie started the year by winning her first Grand Slam in Melbourne, reached the final at Wimbledon, won Stuttgart and is now into the gold medal match in Rio. Kerber has sailed into Saturday’s gold medal match in Rio without dropping a set.

 

The world number 2 has overcome numerous tough opponents in Rio, starting with wins over Mariana Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard and Samantha Stosur. Kerber confirmed her spot in the final with a 6-1 6-2 win over Johanna Konta and a 6-3 7-5 win over Madison Keys. Kerber was superb under pressure in her semi-final win over Madison Keys, Kerber was rock solid when it mattered as she saved all 10 break points she faced throughout the match, an incredible effort given she doesn’t possess a ‘big’ serve. Kerber is a totally different player in 2016, the German is infinitely tougher when in critical moments in big matches.

Monica Puig is having the best week of her tennis life. No one expected the Puerto Rican to reach the gold medal match but she has made her way to Saturday’s gold medal match in style. Puig rocketed through her first four matches in Rio (defeating Polona Hercog, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Garbine Muguruza and Laura Siegemund) without dropping a set and averaging less than 2 games against per set. Puig confirmed her place in the final with a hard-fought 6-4 1-6 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova. It was impressive how Puig was able to swipe away the disappointment of the second set and emerge victorious in the third against a more experienced and accomplished opponent.

 

Angelique Kerber holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Monica Puig. Kerber won an extremely close match in their first meeting, a 3-6 6-4 7-6 win at the Brisbane International in 2013 whilst their most recent clash was an easier win for the German as she claimed a 6-2 6-3 win at the Rogers Cup last year. Both of those matches were on a hard court, the same surface as Saturday’s final, but the hard court in Rio is much slower and will favour Puig.

Kerber and Puig are both playing outstanding tennis in Rio. Saturday’s winner will be whoever can execute their game under extreme pressure. Kerber is clearly more experienced in big matches so she may have the mental edge but I believe Puig may have the tennis edge as she has a greater ability to hit through the Rio courts and can match Kerber in most areas. This is the biggest match of Puig’s life and could be historical moment, If the Puerto Rican can maintain her composure I think she will win this match. Conversely, there is actually more pressure on Kerber in this match as she is expected to win, this could work against her. It should be a great final!

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Angelique Kerber in 3 sets

Madison Keys vs Angelique Kerber, Rio Olympics SF Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro SF #2 Preview 🇧🇷
(7) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber

Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber will renew hostilities on Friday when they meet at the semi-final stage in Rio. The pair have met in a number of important matches over the last couple of years, it has been the German who has usually emerged victorious as she holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Keys. Kerber is in great form this week and will again be a tough opponent for Keys.

Madison Keys has had a topsy-turvy week in Rio but has done extremely well to reach the semi-final stage in her first Olympic campaign. Madison started the week with a straight set win over Danka Kovinic before requiring three tight sets to get past Kristina Mladenovic and Carla Suarez Navarro. Madison booked her spot in the final four with a commanding 6-3 6-1 win over Daria Kasatkina, arguably her best performance of the week.

 

Angelique Kerber has been relatively untroubled on route to the semi-final stage in Rio, the German is yet to drop a set this week and is continuing her outstanding results at major tournaments in 2016. Angie’s victims this week were: Marian Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard, Samantha Stosur and Johanna Konta. Kerber also saved her performance thus far for the quarter-final stage where she thumped Johanna Konta 6-1 6-2.

Kerber holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Keys, the German has won the last two meetings between the pair and all three of their previous matches on a hard court. The most recent match between the pair was earlier this year in Miami where Kerber claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win.

I suspect Kerber will once again get the better of Keys. The German’s consistency and defensive abilities often frustrate Keys into going for too much, this could be a big factor on this occasion because the court in Rio are quite slow and will give the German more time. Kerber is the form player on the tour so I can’t go against her here.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets

Petra Kvitova vs Monica Puig, Rio Olympics SF Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro SF #1 Preview 🇧🇷
(10) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova vs 🇵🇷 Monica Puig

Petra Kvitova and Monica Puig will go head-to-head for the very first time on Friday when they meet at the semi-final stage in Rio. Kvitova and Puig both rocketed through their quarter-finals matches, dropping just two games each to set up an exciting semi-final encounter between two if form players.

Given all of the chaos in the women’s draw in Rio Petra Kvitova has been quite solid. The Czech number 1 has dropped just one set on route to the semi-final stage. Petra started the tournament with convincing straight set wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Timea Babos. Kvitova’s big test was in the third round where she fought from a set and a break down to record a confidence boosting win over Ekaterina Makarova. Petra secured her place in the semi-final’s with a commanding 6-2 6-0 win over Elina Svitolina.

 

Monica Puig has been the surprise package of the Rio games. The manner in which Puig has reached the semi-finals has been very impressive, especially given this is Puig’s first ever Olympic campaign. Puig has dropped just 14 games in her first 4 matches: winning all of her matches in straight sets and averaging less than 2 games against per set. The Puerto Rican defeated Polona Hercog, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Garbine Muguruza and Laura Siegemund on her way to the final four. Puig’s last two wins were particularly impressive, smashing Muguruza and Siegemund both with a 6-1 6-1 scoreline.

This is a tough match to call, especially given this is the first ever meeting between the pair. It is tough to ignore Puig’s stunning form heading into this match, but Kvitova is the more experienced player, especially at the later stages of big events. I’m going to side with Puig despite her relative inexperience. The slower surface in Rio must suit Puig in this match-up. Both players like to be very aggressive but Puig is a better grinder on a slower surface which could give her the edge here.

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Petra Kvitova in 3 sets

2016 Rio Olympic Games, Quarter-final match Previews

QF #1: (15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina vs (11) 🇨🇿 Petra Kvitova

Elina Svitolina caused the biggest upset of the tournament on Tuesday evening when she eliminated the tournament favourite Serena Williams with a 6-4 6-3 victory. The Ukrainian’s win over Serena was arguably the biggest win of her career but she will have little time to celebrate as she will have less than 24 hours to prepare for a clash with Petra Kvitova.

Petra Kvitova looked down and out in her third round clash with Ekaterina Makarova, the Czech managed to fight from a set and a break down to record a memorable 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory.

 

Kvitova holds a 2-1 head to-head record over Svitolina. The Czech has won the two most recent matches between the pair: a 6-3 7-5 win in Wuhan in 2014 and a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win in Dubai last year.

I suspect Kvitova will once again get the better of Svitolina on this occasion. The match is almost totally on Petra’s racquet, now that the draw has opened up and at this stage of the event I think Petra will be motivated to perform well and therefore should overpower Svitolina here. Petra is very experienced at representing her country, Petra has arguably been the best Fed Cup performer over the last several years and this could be the time for that success to translate into Olympic success.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova to defeat Elina Svitolina in 3 sets

 

QF #2: 🇵🇷 Monica Puig vs 🇩🇪 Laura Siegemund

The most unexpected quarter-final match-up sees Monica Puig come up against Laura Siegemund, the only quarter-final match-up which features two unseeded players.

Monica Puig has arguably been the form player of the tournament. The Puerto Rican has advanced to the quarter-final stage in her first Olympic campaign without dropping a set. Puig claimed comfortable straight set wins over Polona Hercog and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to begin her Rio campaign before producing her best performance of the tournament thus far in the third round where she thumped Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-1.

 

Laura Siegemund has also defied the odds to reach the quarter-final stage of her first Olympic campaign. The German did well to even reach Rio and is now making the most of her opportunity. Siegemund has benefited from a very favourable draw, claiming wins over Tsvetana Pironkova, Shuai Zhang and Kirsten Flipkens to reach the quarter-final stage.

This will be the first ever meetings between Puig and Siegemund, two feisty competitors. The slow surface in Rio suits both ladies and they seem pretty evenly matched heading into this clash. Puig’s form is more impressive given she has beaten more established players and Puig’s best is better than Siegemund’s so I think Puig has the slight edge here.

Prediction: Monica Puig to defeat Laura Siegemund in 3 sets

 

QF #3: (7) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina are two of the most promising young talents on the tour, the pair will go head-to-head at the quarter-final stage of their first Olympic campaigns on Wednesday.

Madison Keys has taken the tough route to the quarter-final stage, the American has twice been pushed to a third set after a straight set win over Kovinic in the first round. Keys overcame Mladenovic in a 3-hour battle before booking her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro.

 

Daria Kasatkina made a slow start in Rio, just sneaking past Ons Jabeur in the first round. The Russian has raised her level in her last couple of matches as she claimed straight set wins over Saisai Zheng and Sara Errani.

Madison’s biggest concern heading into this match could be fatigue given she will be playing for a third day in a row and is coming off two tough three setters. Luckily Keys isn’t the type of player that needs to do a lot of running, Madison is playing with a lot of confidence and belief at the moment and should probably be a bit too good for Kasatkina on this occasion.

Prediction: Madison Keys to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets

 

QF #4: (2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs (10) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta

Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta have been two of the form players in season 2016, the pair will go head-to-head for the first time since their semi-final clash at the Australian Open earlier this year when they met at the quarter-final stage in Rio.

Kerber has breezed through to the quarter-final stage without dropping a set. The German has claimed straight set wins over Mariana Duque-Marino, Eugenie Bouchard and finally confirmed her spot in the final 8 with a 6-0 7-5 win over Sam Stosur.

 

Johanna Konta started her first Olympic campaign with straight set victories over Stephanie Vogt and Caroline Garcia. Konta’s first big test came at the third round stage where she was forced to work extremely hard for a 3-6 7-5 7-5 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Kerber won the only previous match between the pair, a 7-5 6-2 win at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open earlier this year. I suspect there will be a similar result on Wednesday, Kerber is the fresher player heading into this match and the slow surface probably suits Kerber in this match-up. Konta will find it hard to hit through the German who is looking good in Rio.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Johanna Konta in 2 sets

Sara Errani vs Daria Kasatkina, Rio Olympics R3 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview 🇧🇷
🇮🇹 Sara Errani vs 🇷🇺 Daria Kasatkina

Sara Errani and Daria Kasatkina both have a great opportunity to make the most of a relatively open section of the draw and reach the quarter-final stage in Rio. Errani is competing in her third Olympic games and is searching for a maiden Olympic medal whilst Daria Kasatkina is participating in her first Olympic campaign.

Little was expected of Sara Errani heading into Rio, the Italian has generally struggled in 2016 but has shown some decent form in her opening couple of matches in Rio. The Italian has recorded back-to-back upset victories to advance to the third round, starting with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens before thumping Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-2. The slow surface in Rio may just be working in the Italian’s favour, it means she is able to get into the long rallies that she thrives on.

 

Daria Kasatkina has made the most of an extremely favourable draw to reach the third round stage in Rio. Kasatkina almost slipped up in the first round but managed to sneak past Ons Jabeur with a 3-6 7-6 6-1 victory. The Russian was more clinical in her second round match where she claimed a comfortable 6-4 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng.

Sara Errani won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win on the clay of Bad Gastein last year. Kasatkina has certainly had a great season and is a plyer on the rise but she has consistently lost big matches, generally very close matches. I suspect that trend will continue here, this should be a long, close match where the superior experience and mental strength of Sara Errani will see the Italian prevail.

Prediction: Sara Errani to defeat Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets

Garbine Muguruza vs Monica Puig, Rio Olympics R3 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview 🇧🇷
(3) 🇪🇸 Garbine Muguruza vs 🇵🇷 Monica Puig

Garbine Muguruza looms as one of the favourites to claim gold in Rio. The Spaniard has made a strong start to her first Olympic campaign with a couple of straight set wins and will look to continue that strong form on Wednesday when she takes on Monica Puig.

Muguruza was relatively untroubled in her Olympics singles debut, the Spaniard claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Andreea Mitu before thumping Nao Hibino 6-1 6-1 in just 57 minutes. The slow had court surface in Rio are a surface that Muguruza can thrive on, the Spaniard is one of few players that has the weapons to hit through the surface and has generally played her best tennis on a slower surface throughout her career, most notably on the clay at Roland Garros. 

 

Monica Puig has also made a successful start to her first ever Olympic campaign. Puig claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win over Polona Hercog in the opening round before winning with the exact same scoreline of 6-3 6-2 this time over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, an impressive win.

This will be the first career meeting between Muguruza and Puig. This should be a fairly competitive match, certainly the biggest test for both in Rio thus far. The dead courts in Rio play well for both Muguruza and Puig, in fact Muguruza and Puig are similar players in many ways but ultimately Muguruza can be seen as a better version of Puig and therefore she should be too good here.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Monica Puig in 2 sets

Madison Keys vs Carla Suarez Navarro, Rio Olympics R3 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R3 Preview 🇧🇷
(7) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs (9) 🇪🇸 Carla Suarez Navarro

One of the toughest third round matches in Rio sees the seventh seeded Madison Keys come up against the ninth seeded Carla Suarez Navarro. This match-up features an extreme contrast in styles making it a particularly interesting clash, will the powerful American prevail or the consistent Spaniard?

 

Madison Keys made a powerful start to her Olympic campaign with a convincing 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic but was forced to work much harder for her second round win over Kristina Mladenovic. Madison needed well over three hours to confirm her spot in the third round as she claimed a gruelling 7-5 6-7 7-6 win over Kristina Mladenovic. It was a big win for the American but it was certainly an energy sapping win which may come back to haunt her.

Suarez Navarro was dealt a very dangerous first round opponent in the form of Ana Ivanovic but weathered the storm in that match claim a 2-6 6-1 6-2 win. The Spaniard confirmed her spot in the third round in Rio with a 7-6 6-3 win over Ana Konjuh. Carla will face her toughest challenge in the third round when she comes up against Madison Keys.

 

Madison Keys holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over Carla Suarez Navarro. The first win was a three set win on the hard courts of Tokyo in 2013, more recently Keys claimed a hard-fought 3-6 6-3 7-6 win over the Spaniard on the grass courts of Birmingham a couple of months ago.

The result in this match-up will always be very dependent on Madison’s level of play given the American is the far more powerful player and will decide most of the points. The good news for Carla is that the courts in Rio are very slow meaning she will have more chances to engage Madison in extended rallies. I think Carla has a good chance to overcome Keys on this occasion, it will be tough for Keys to back up after her physical win over Mladenovic, especially given she will have less than 24 hours to recover as this match is the first match scheduled on Centre Court. Carla came very close to beating Madison in conditions that were perfect for the American a few months ago, on this occasion the conditions and circumstances favour Carla so that suggests she can win this.

Prediction: Carla Suarez Navarro to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets

Elina Svitolina vs Heather Watson, Rio Olympics R2 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R2 Preview 🇧🇷
(15) 🇺🇦 Elina Svitolina vs 🇬🇧 Heather Watson

A great opportunity to reach the third round will present itself to both Elina Svitolina and Heather Watson on Tuesday. The pair will go head-to-head for just the second time in a match that both ladies will see as a very winnable one.

Elina Svitolina played a solid opening round match in her Olympic debut. The Ukrainian fought from a set down to record a 2-6 6-1 6-3 win over Andrea Petkovic. The slow, dead hard courts in Rio suit the Ukrainian very well, Svitolina looms as a player that can cause some damage in Rio.

 

Heather Watson was also required to go the distance in her opening round match in Rio. Heather claimed a gutsy 6-4 6-7 6-3 win over Shuai Peng. Watson didn’t play particularly well but will just be happy that she got the win given her recent struggles. Watson arrived in Rio having won just 2 of her last 10 matches, therefore there are little expectations for Watson to perform well in Rio which could work in the Brit’s favour.

Watson won the only previous match between the pair, a 3-6 7-5 6-4 on the grass in Eastbourne last year. Tuesday’s clash in Rio will be very different, the hard courts in Rio are not very lively, this match will feature some very long rallies given both will struggle to hit through the surface. Ultimately, I suspect Svitolina will be a bit too strong given she is usually the more consistent player and her movement is probably better. Watson’s recent form suggests she is unlikely to get through this match.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Heather Watson in 3 sets

Angelique Kerber vs Eugenie Bouchard, Rio Olympics R2 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R2 Preview 🇧🇷
(2) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇨🇦 Eugenie Bouchard

A fascinating second round clash in Rio sees the second seeded Angelique Kerber come up against Eugenie Bouchard. This is a tough early round match for the German, Bouchard holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Kerber, the slow court surface in Rio will also probably favour the Canadian.

Angelique Kerber made a solid start to her Olympic campaign in Rio, the second seed claimed a hard-fought 6-3 7-5 win over Mariana Duque-Marino. Kerber was in trouble in the second set but managed to win the final 5 games of the set to confirm a straight set victory. There is a lot of pressure on Kerber in Rio, as the reigning Australian Open champion and the second seed the German will be expected to win a medal in Rio. Kerber will face her first real test on Tuesday against Bouchard.

 

Eugenie Bouchard made an impressive start to her Rio campaign on Sunday. The Canadian claimed her first ever Olympic victory by defeating Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-3 in a fairly clinical performance. Bouchard will be confident heading into her second round clash with Kerber given her positive head-to-head record over the German.
Bouchard has won 3 of her 4 previous encounters with Kerber, in fact Bouchard has won the last 3 matches between the pair. Their most recent match was a couple of months ago in Rome where Bouchard won a topsy-turvy match 6-1 5-7 7-5.

Kerber will be the favourite heading into this match given her superior ranking and results over the last few months. However, this is clearly a good match-up for Bouchard, the head-to-head record doesn’t lie. Kerber’s lefty game plays nicely into the solid backhand of Bouchard and the Canadian’s superior aggression usually sees her prevail in this match-up. That superior aggressive game will be a factor on Tuesday on a slow court, I think Bouchard has a good chance here.

Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Angelique Kerber in 3 sets

Samantha Stosur vs Jelena Ostapenko, Rio Olympics R1 Preview

2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro R1 🇧🇷
(13) 🇦🇺 Samantha Stosur vs 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko
The draw hasn’t been kind to Sam Stosur in Rio, the Australian will need to be at her best if she is to get through a tough first round match on Sunday when she comes up against Jelena Ostapenko.

Sam Stosur has typically struggled when representing Australia, especially in recent Fed Cup ties. This is likely to be Stosur’s last time representing Australia at an Olympic tournament, it will be interesting to see how she handles the pressure of being Australia’s top ranked player in Rio de Janeiro. 

 

Jelena Ostapenko will be competing in her first Olympic Games and looms as a dark horse to go deep in the singles draw. Ostapenko’s form over the last couple of months has been a bit disappointing, especially when compared to her stunning results at the start of the year. Nevertheless, Ostapenko is well prepared for Rio having claimed a couple of wins in Florianopolis this week.

This will be the first ever meeting between the pair, I suspect this match-up will suit the Latvian. Stosur has traditionally struggled against players like Ostapenko. The young Latvian is very powerful off both sides and moves well around the court making her a troublesome opponent for Stosur. The Australian will not be able to consistently overpower her opponent in this match-up, something she usually relies on to win. If Ostapenko plays smart tennis she should win this match.

Prediction: Jelena Ostapenko to defeat Samantha Stosur in 3 sets